News Wire: Amtrak on Forbes list of top employers

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Posted by Brian Schmidt on Friday, May 04, 2018 11:28 AM

WASHINGTON – Amtrak has been named to Forbes magazine’s 2018 list of America’s best employers, its fourth straight year of such recognition. Amtrak, which has about 20,000 employees, is one of 500 employers recognized across 25 indu...

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/05/02-amtrak-on-forbes-list-of-top-employers

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, May 04, 2018 9:33 PM

Anderson isn't going to like that.

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, May 06, 2018 3:11 PM

BaltACD
Anderson isn't going to like that.

Nah, most of those benefit cost the company very little compared with retraining costs.    I would be curious what their retention rate is because my feeling most Amtrak employees are transient and not career employees, just a guess though.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, May 06, 2018 3:45 PM

CMStPnP
 
BaltACD
Anderson isn't going to like that. 

Nah, most of those benefit cost the company very little compared with retraining costs.    I would be curious what their retention rate is because my feeling most Amtrak employees are transient and not career employees, just a guess though.

The Amtrak employees I have known are far from transient!  The only thing that would make them leave are being fired.,winning Power Ball or retirement.

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, May 06, 2018 6:11 PM

BaltACD
The Amtrak employees I have known are far from transient!  The only thing that would make them leave are being fired.,winning Power Ball or retirement.

It was just a guess based on how many I ran into onboard with a below par attitude but I can see after looking at their benefits.    7% 401k match, RR Retirement Benefits, above market pay for IT at least, $5 to ride the Accela, NE Regional Trains free, LD Trains substantial discounts, etc. 

 

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, May 06, 2018 6:27 PM

CMStPnP
 BaltACD The Amtrak employees I have known are far from transient!  The only thing that would make them leave are being fired.,winning Power Ball or retirement.  

It was just a guess based on how many I ran into onboard with a below par attitude but I can see after looking at their benefits.    7% 401k match, RR Retirement Benefits, above market pay for IT at least, $5 to ride the Accela, NE Regional Trains free, LD Trains substantial discounts, etc. 

Two of the conductors whom I have gotten to know from riding the Texas Eagle between San Antonio and Dallas have been with the company for more than 30 years.  They give Amtrak high marks.  

I also know two station agents; one in Temple and one in Austin.  The agent in Temple has been with Amtrak for 12 years; she seems to like working for the company.  The agent in Austin has been with the company for 12 to 15 or more years; he also seems to like working for Amtrak.

The Amtrak employees that I know are high school grads.  I believe they have pretty good compensation packages for the work that they do and the skills required to perform the jobs. 

As an indirect example, per the Amtrak 2012 Food and Beverage Audit, the average compensation for on-board servers in 2012 was $88,970.  Assuming 40 percent of that was for pension, medical, and other benefits, the average take home wage before taxes would have been in the neighborhood of $53,382.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, May 06, 2018 7:49 PM

CMStPnP
 
BaltACD
The Amtrak employees I have known are far from transient!  The only thing that would make them leave are being fired.,winning Power Ball or retirement. 

It was just a guess based on how many I ran into onboard with a below par attitude but I can see after looking at their benefits.    7% 401k match, RR Retirement Benefits, above market pay for IT at least, $5 to ride the Accela, NE Regional Trains free, LD Trains substantial discounts, etc. 

Below par attitudes begin with Amtrak management - in general people hired off the street out of college trying to demand their 'subordinates' perform actions 'their' way when they have no idea of what actually needs to be accomplished.  Amtrak 'management' may be transient, the employees want have their entire career with Amtrak.

         

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Posted by alphas on Sunday, May 06, 2018 11:55 PM

PJS1,

Your figures may be obsolete.     There was some discussion last year about more recent figures for the average Amtrak Food & Beverage employee's pay [excluding benefits]  and the numbers discussed were considerably more than $53,382--plus tips were not considered at all.   

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Posted by BLS53 on Monday, May 07, 2018 12:42 AM

Got to be the most lucrative waitress gig in the nation. 

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Posted by PJS1 on Monday, May 07, 2018 7:59 AM

alphas
 PJS1, Your figures may be obsolete.     There was some discussion last year about more recent figures for the average Amtrak Food & Beverage employee's pay [excluding benefits]  and the numbers discussed were considerably more than $53,382--plus tips were not considered at all.   

You are correct.  The figures are from a 2012 study.  Assuming they got an average increase of two percent a year between 2012 and 2017, the compounded numbers would be $58,938.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for restaurant wait persons associated with the travel industry in 2017 was $33,710.  The annual wage for all servers ranged from $17,200 to $40,210 before any benefits.  In most instances restaurant workers don't have rich benefit packages if any.

As far as I know Amtrak's Food and Beverage Service employees are not required to report their tips to the company.  They would however be required to declaire them on their federal income tax return. 

Amtrak's wait persons claim that they are more than typical wait persons.  They are performing their tasks on a moving vehicle and, in case of an accident, they are expected to help mitigate the consequences.  In addition, they are frequently required to be away from home for long periods of time, thereby justifying the higher wages that they seem to enjoy. 

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, May 07, 2018 10:42 AM

BLS53
Got to be the most lucrative waitress gig in the nation.

I doubt it. 

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 8:17 PM

That does it.  No more dining car tips!!  For that pay and benefits I'd stay away from home for long periods of time.  Hell, I'd stay away from home for long periods of time for less than that.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 9:54 PM

runnerdude48
That does it.  No more dining car tips!!  For that pay and benefits I'd stay away from home for long periods of time.  Hell, I'd stay away from home for long periods of time for less than that.

So everyone thinks that the sub-minimum wage rate that brick & mortar restaruant servers is adequate for all servers in every form of food service - otherwise you'll walk? 

Anderson wants Amtrak run as a minimum wage sweat shop - if it runs at all.

         

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 11:03 PM

runnerdude48

That does it.  No more dining car tips!!  For that pay and benefits I'd stay away from home for long periods of time.  Hell, I'd stay away from home for long periods of time for less than that.

The reason Unions were formed in the first place is because of companies and managers with attitudes like that.  "Those darn workers, wanting good pay.  Don't they know how lucky they are to work here!"

But seriously though, for comparison, what do airline on-board crew members (flight attendents etc) make?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 12:45 PM

SD70Dude
But seriously though, for comparison, what do airline on-board crew members (flight attendents etc) make?

On the big union airlines, I heard that domestically, they get royally screwed on pay unless it is a coast to coast flight.   Internationally, they do OK.    Non-union Southwest, also heard pay is OK.    The other non-union and smaller domestic carriers they are probably not paid enough to survive independently.

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 4:44 PM

SD70Dude
 

But seriously though, for comparison, what do airline on-board crew members (flight attendents etc) make?

According to Table 53-2031, Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017 the mean annual wage for flight attendants employed by scheduled airlines was $52,780. The median was $50,500.  They ranged from a low of $26,860 – 10th percentile to $79,520 – 90th percentile.  These numbers do not include benefits, which would be part of an overall compensation package.
 
Texas led the nation with 16,310 flight attendants based in the Lone Star state.  Their average wage was $55,090.  Florida with 8,640 home-based flight attendants, led the pay scale with an average wage of $56,480.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 6:06 PM
Given that the comparative stats are accurate, how to justify paying the Amtrak workers ~10% more than airline employees doing comparable work?
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Posted by PJS1 on Friday, May 11, 2018 11:38 AM

charlie hebdo
Given that the comparative stats are accurate, how to justify paying the Amtrak workers ~10% more than airline employees doing comparable work? 

In most markets the commercial airlines compete vigorously.  So, they have to do a reasonably effective job of controlling their expenses.  This includes controlling their labor costs, which are a major expense.  

In effect Amtrak has a monopoly on intercity rail travel.  It competes against the airlines in a few short haul markets, as well as intercity buses, but it does not have any compelling, competitive like kind industry pressures to check its labor expenses.

Approximately 85 percent of Amtrak's employees or 17,000 are union members.  If they don't like Amtrak's labor policies and practices, the union can use its political clout to lobby the Congress for a better outcome.  

Amtrak's management has to continuously look over its shoulder to make sure that it is not running afoul of its Congressional supporters.  So, it probably is sensitive to the union's political influence and, therefore, probably is a bit quicker to acceed to labor's demands than it might be if it were not for its dependance on the Congress for substantial subsidies. 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, May 14, 2018 11:49 AM

We may, I say we are, reading too much into making the Forbes list.  The survey probably reflects management and management support level employees, not necessarily those working in the field.   

After all, Union Pacific made the list and is having trouble getting people to hire out.  Even with a hiring bonus.  Heck, people with 10+ years have been pulling the pin lately.  

Jeff 

 

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Posted by PJS1 on Monday, May 14, 2018 1:29 PM

jeffhergert

We may, I say we are, reading too much into making the Forbes list.  The survey probably reflects management and management support level employees, not necessarily those working in the field.   

After all, Union Pacific made the list and is having trouble getting people to hire out.  Even with a hiring bonus.  Heck, people with 10+ years have been pulling the pin lately.  

Jeff 

I submitted a request to the author of the article for information regarding the methdology that supports the process.  Unfortunately, I have not heard from him.

To be considered for inclusion in the survey, as I understand it, at least 75 employees in the organization must complete a questionnaire regarding key aspects of their employment.  How the employees are selcted is not clear.  

If the study were to reflect the views of the employees, the questionnaire would have to be distributed and completed by a statistically valid, random sample of employees.  Otherwise, all you have are the views of those who competed the questionnaire, which may or may not reflect the views of the majority of employees.  

Surveys of this kind should be taken with a grain of salt. 

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Posted by alphas on Monday, May 14, 2018 11:14 PM

The few Amtrak employees I personally knew admitted to me at various times that they had "cushy" jobs and it was best they kept a low profile.    I doubt they'd want to fill out any form about how Amtrak treated them as they just didn't want to be noticed period.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 9:19 AM

jeffhergert

We may, I say we are, reading too much into making the Forbes list.  The survey probably reflects management and management support level employees, not necessarily those working in the field.   

After all, Union Pacific made the list and is having trouble getting people to hire out.  Even with a hiring bonus.  Heck, people with 10+ years have been pulling the pin lately.  

Jeff 

glassdoor.com directly surveys the employees.    It is always skewed to the positive side as well though because traditionally people with negative opinions are afraid to post on the internet, even if anonymous.    So when you see a lot of negative comments on glassdoor you know the company really has to suck.   What I found there was a mixed bag, seems those Amtrak employees with desk jobs and fixed hours of work, love the place overwhealmingly and those with operational jobs that have to traval are a little less satisfied.

One or two of my past employers are on there with overwhealmingly negative responses and it was entertaining reading them but they also pretty well sucked as a company too..........so I think the negativity was called for.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 1:38 PM

Checked glassdoor.com for the views of my former employer - sad, very very sad!

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 8:26 PM

BaltACD
Checked glassdoor.com for the views of my former employer - sad, very very sad! Add Quote to your Post

Yeah, Glassdoor.com is one big reason I dumped CSX stock after the 4th year of little or no capital growth.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 10:09 PM

CMStPnP
 
BaltACD
Checked glassdoor.com for the views of my former employer -" sad, very very sad! " 

Yeah, Glassdoor.com is one big reason I dumped CSX stock after the 4th year of little or no capital growth.

You aren't drinking the Mantle Ridge Kool-aid?

         

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 11:49 PM

BaltACD
You aren't drinking the Mantle Ridge Kool-aid?

No.  I believe you have to settle whatever the internal Civil War in a Company is FIRST before you can make any serious money or execute any serious restructuring.    Otherwise your headed for long-term decline of the financial type.    BTDT at General Motors, have the T-Shirt.   I still remember when GM removed Robert Stemple the employees at HQ went into absolute shock "this has never been done before at GM" and one of the Secretarial Admins even asked "Does this mean we can no longer nap in the ladies restroom on that nice couch?"

Also, had a strong feeling EHH would croak at CSX due to the institutional infighting being too much for him to overcome.

BTW, Chevrolet would rail against Saturn at almost every internal GM meeting and is the main reason Saturn no longer exists.    Chevrolet's argument was Saturn was canabalizing their entry level sales and the two divisions of GM could never survive together and one Division had to go.   You can figure out who won the argument.   Chevrolet knew it would win the one Division has to go argument because it was the largest GM Division at the time in sales, breadth of products and profitability.    Not sure why Saturn pizzed off Chevrolet so much but they were hardly a threat.    Though GM was also getting tired of subsidizing the Saturn division as well.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 9:13 AM

For reference, in 2016, the CSX Glassdoor review average was 3.3; now 2.6.

For comparison, NS is currently 2.9; UP 2.7; BNSF 3.4; CN 3.2; CP 2.2.

In other industries, GE is 3.6; GM 3.8; Boeing 3.5; Amazon 3.8; Microsoft 4.1; Apple 4.0.

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 11:31 AM

CMStPnP
Not sure why Saturn pizzed off Chevrolet so much but they were hardly a threat. Though GM was also getting tired of subsidizing the Saturn division as well.

 

Subsidizing aside, could it be that Saturn changed the way the public was able to buy a car?  Up front pricing, clean and open buildings not reeking of cigarette smoke and desperation, non-sleazeball dealers in cheap suits?  Many dealerships have since upgraded and mimic what Saturn pretty much introduced (maybe the higher end dealers like audi and Mercedes were already there?)

 Now if Saturn would have introduced a minivan sooner (and not just a rebadged chevy).

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, May 20, 2018 10:11 PM

zugmann
Subsidizing aside, could it be that Saturn changed the way the public was able to buy a car?  Up front pricing, clean and open buildings not reeking of cigarette smoke and desperation, non-sleazeball dealers in cheap suits?  Many dealerships have since upgraded and mimic what Saturn pretty much introduced (maybe the higher end dealers like audi and Mercedes were already there?)  Now if Saturn would have introduced a minivan sooner (and not just a rebadged chevy)

Hard to tell because some of the GM decisions were from my perspective ego driven vs having real business reasons behind some of them.    My feeling at the time was Chevrolet was just complaining because it could never meet it's sales targets and had way too many car platforms itself and was attempting to protect it's turf at the cost of Saturn.    Though I can see the GM management perspective that Saturn was started as an experiment and it was meant to achieve break even faster than it was.    So I can also see their view why they thought Saturn was expendable.

I got bits and pieces of the EMD divestiture decision as well.    That was particularly sad because EMD's chief engineer found out I was a railfan and dropped off some really cool builders photos of the BN Executive Color locos they  built.   Stupidly I misplaced them but I felt sorry for the guy because it was becomming clear they would eventually close LaGrange and he would be forced to transfer or lose his job.   

However it shows you how friendly they were internally at GM even in the face of adversity it was one big happy family.    Never met the guy and I was out to lunch when he dropped them off.   Anyhow, one of the reasons they let go of EMD was they knew the business needed a capital infusion or a series of them to stay competitive but GM didn't want to spend the money and it actually needed money for the car and truck business to introduce new models.    So they made the decision to sell EMD.    That wasn't all that went into the decision I am sure, like I said I only got fragments as I was not a GM employee I was there working for EDS to support their decision support IT systems.

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